The Plight of Small-Town Journalism Featured in Documentary “Storm Lake”, Live Q&A with Director Beth Levison and The Vermont Standard’s Phil Camp
WOODSTOCK, VT … On Saturday, February 5, the Woodstock Vermont Film Series will present “Storm Lake,” a charming, yet cautionary look at local journalism and the part that it plays in the community’s story and connectedness, in showings at 3PM and 5:30PM. Part of the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival Tour, there will be a Q&A with Director and Producer Beth Levison, Phil Camp, Owner of the Vermont Standard and Jay Craven, Curator of the Woodstock Vermont Film Series, at 4:30PM, between showings of the film.
“Storm Lake” explores Iowa’s most impressive journalism family. For more than 30 years, the Cullen Family has published The Storm Lake Times, a small-town, twice-weekly, Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper that covers critically important local issues and serves as the glue that holds the community together. Twice a week, come hell or high water, they work as civic watchdogs to protect their beloved hometown and the legacy of credible local journalism at large.
But against the backdrop of a collapsing journalism ecosystem and a crushing pandemic, how can the paper avoid the fate of so many other newspapers? In Beth Levison and Jerry Risius’s charming yet cautionary documentary, we see the Cullens’ hard at work, occasionally sniping at each other, as they meet the moment, one deadline at a time. As Art says, “Without strong local journalism to tell a community’s story, the fabric of the place becomes frayed.”
In the Q&A following the 3PM screening, Jay Craven will lead a discussion with Camp about the role that newspapers play in community connectedness and the challenges, rewards and opportunities that local journalism affords. Camp has been honored by The Boston Globe for The Vermont Standard’s unwavering commitment to local journalism and the community and the Standard has been awarded the New England Newspaper of the Year multiple times, including in 2021. The discussion will also delve into the circumstance behind the production and Levison’s work as a documentary producer since Storm Lake.
Beth Levison is an Emmy and Peabody-winning producer/director based in New York City. Her most recent producing efforts include Women in Blue (Tribeca Film Festival 2020/Independent Lens) and Emmy-nominated Made in Boise (AFI DOCS 2019/Independent Lens). Previous producing credits include 32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide (HBO 2017), Emmy-nominated Personal Statement (PBS 2018), and her independent directorial/producing debut, Lemon (PBS 2011). Beth is the founder of Hazel Pictures, a co-founder of the Documentary Producers Alliance (DPA), producing faculty with the School of Visual Arts (SVA), and a member of AMPAS.
February Films at Billings Farm & Museum Theater
From the effect of climate change on agriculture, to the healing power of music, to a glimpse at the Rock & Roll President, three additional documentary films showing in February at the Billings Farm Theatre will entertain and inspire.
February 12: The Ants and The Grasshopper
The Ants and The Grasshopper documentary is narrated by Anita Chitaya, a Malawian activist on a mission, traveling across America to meet farmers and community leaders to talk about climate change.
February 19: Jimmy Carter Rock n Roll President
The surprisingly significant role that music played throughout Carter’s life and in his work becomes a thread in this engaging portrait of one of the most enigmatic Presidents in American history.
February 26: Summer of Soul
Summer of Soul, the debut by filmmaker, Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, shines a light on the importance of history to our spiritual well-being and stands as a testament to the healing power of music during times of unrest, both past and present.
Films will play at 3pm and 5:30pm, Saturdays at the Billings Farm & Museum Theater. Reservations are strongly recommended as seating is limited. Masks and proof of vaccination are required. Purchase tickets and provide proof of vaccination in advance online at billingsfarm.org/filmseries or by phone at 802-457-5303 before noon on Friday. Tickets may be available for purchase at the Ticket Desk on the day of the film if seating allows.
Showing as part of the 12th Annual Woodstock Vermont Film Series, these films reflect Billings Farm & Museum’s vision to share place-based stories of people near and far, to engage our audiences, and to inspire conversations that increase connections with each other and our world.
The Woodstock Vermont Film Series is curated and directed by award-winning filmmaker Jay Craven, produced by the Billings Farm & Museum, with generous support from local sponsors. We gratefully acknowledge our lead sponsors: D. R. Horne & Company and the Woodstock Inn & Resort, as well as Ellaway Property Services, Inc.